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Explore Paris’ incredible architectural swimming pools

Photographer Ludwig Favre has captured the watery depths and hidden architectural details of Paris’ extraordinary swimming pools.

It’s been six years since the city’s legendary Piscine Molitor was rescued from ruin, having been left to decay since the late 1980s. But the pool – as famous for debuting the bikini as it is for its celebrated Art Deco design – is far from Paris’ only architecturally worthy watering hole.

Paris swimming pools photo essay by Ludwig Favre
Piscine Molitor. Photography: Ludwig Favre

Favre has spent two years snapping these majestic spaces, capturing them at their more silent moments. Devoid of people, and with the water reflecting their surrounding architecture, his photos are a chance to re-evaluate a part of the city that often doesn’t make it into tourist guides.

The photographer started his series at the Piscine Pontoise – designed in 1933 by Lucien Pollet, the same architect that worked on the Molitor. His images highlight the building’s surprisingly elegant interiors, particularly the delicate detailing on the railing and Art Deco mosaics.

Paris swimming pools photo essay by Ludwig Favre
Piscine Pontoise. Photography: Ludwig Favre

It’s a similar story for the Molitor, which was entirely rebuilt from scratch in its original 1929 style, and reopened in 2014.

In contrast to these Art Deco landmarks, the Aquazena swimming pool, designed by Mikou Design Studio, offers a distinctly modern experience, and its ceiling and walls are perforated by rounded ‘bubbles’ – as the practice calls them.

Paris swimming pools photo essay by Ludwig Favre
Aquazena, Issy-les-Moulineaux. Photography: Ludwig Favre

Favre says that although Paris’s pools are easy to find, getting permission to photograph them – and finding a moment when they are quiet – is more of a challenge. He plans to continue the series, with a focus on the city’s historic examples. It adds to his rich body of work that capturing Paris’ architectural landmarks.

Editor’s note: This story was updated on 15 April 2020.

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